We want to add some 'false positives' and 'false negatives' here, by which we mean either positive or negative criteria that are interpreted the other way around by uninformed buyers. This is the case either for claims by breeders as a proof of their being 'responsible breeders' while these claims are on the contrary to be considered negative points, OR actions by the breeder that are falsely interpreted as being 'suspicious' by the prospective buye. For example:
1. The breeder has both parents on site (=false positive)
Responsible breeders choose the best mate for their dogs based on criteria such as confirmation, temperament, ancestry, etc. It is therefore highly unlikely that they will find both the ideal dam and the ideal sir in their own kennel. Usually breeders are ready to research and travel a long way to find the ideal mate for the dog they plan to breed. If both parents are on site, always ask why, there may be a good reason, but it is usually a bad sign, because it often means that the breeder settles for breedings that are cheap and convenient.
2. The breeder didn't let me in for a visit and seeing the dogs (= false negative)
Please understand that breeders have a routine they have to respect, feeding, grooming and cleaning times, etc.
Always make an appointment and never expect a breeder to let you in and show his house or kennel to visitors who drop by unexpectedly.
3. The breeder is very friendly, and lets me pick the "cutest" puppy of the litter (=false positive)
That the breeder seems very accomodating is not necessarily a good sign. A responsible breeder will test the pups to match their temperaments and drives with buyers' personalities and lifestyles instead of letting the buyer randomly pick a puppy, especially if the buyer's motivation is limited to physical criteria such as color, markings or size. However, this does not mean that the selection of a puppy from a litter should be an entirely rational decision. If, after several visits, the buyer seems to have a special, mutual 'bound' with one puppy in particular, there is no reason a breeder will oppose that 'love at first sight'.
4. This breeder runs his kennel as his only source of income, so he is only out for profit (=false negative)
Some people are lucky enough to earn their living with their passion, what's wrong about that ? If placed on a continuum, both extremes, either the occasional hobby breeder on the one end, and the big pet selling business (pet store, puppy mill) on the other, are to be avoided. In between, you find responsible breeders who breed as a hobby, but for whom this hobby takes a sufficiently important place in their lives in terms of time and effort to take it seriously. You also find professional breeders operating small structures with maximum two different breeds, where 'professional' stands for dedication, funds, planning, organization. Professional breeders have the structure, time and network to do correctly what many 'backyard breeders' or occasional hobby breeders are not able to do. A good breeding program needs good planning ability, a solid network, and financial sustainability (for example, being able to feed and care for the puppies for as long as they are not sold), and that's where the dedicated hobbyist and small-structure professional meet.